Is England’s Bad Weather A Sign Of Climate Change?

By Paul Homewood

Britain enduring the worst series of winter storms in more than 20 years, forecasters say, with 96 flood warnings issued throughout England and Wales

The December floods in England have been a big story recently, and, of course, still remain a problem. The term “extreme weather” has been bandied about, along with the inevitable connotation of “climate change”. ( I may be wrong, but years ago we rarely seemed to hear this term – it was usually just called “bad weather”, or simply referred to as “wet”, “stormy”, “cold” etc).

Nobody, of course, actually quantifies any of this, but the inference is made nevertheless. A good example came in the Telegraph, in an otherwise sensible article by William Langley:

Earlier this year, the Government agreed a deal with insurers that would nominally protect 500,000 households in areas deemed to be at such high risk their owners are unable to get cover. The £180 million raised each year — which would be managed by a not-for-profit fund known as Flood Re — ensures properties remain insurable through a £10.50-a-year levy on all residential premiums due to be introduced in 2015.

But critics say the scheme allows for no increase in the likely numbers of flood victims as weather patterns become increasingly severe and new homes are built in areas previously considered off limits because of flood risk.

So what exactly are the facts? How unusual has the recent rainfall been, and is there a trend to heavier rainfall?

December 2013 Rainfall 1981 - 2010 anomaly

Scotland has certainly been very wet in December, but I want to concentrate on England, as this is where most of the media attention, and, it seems, damage has been.

First we’ll look at England as a whole, then concentrate on the South East, where the real problems have been.



Figure 1

Figure 1 shows December precipitation, using the Met Office data. For the country as a whole, last month was only the 20th wettest since 1910, certainly nothing out of the ordinary. The wettest month was in 1914, when 179mm fell, compared with 116mm this time. Bear in mind as well, that this is just one month of the year – there will be plenty of Januaries, Februaries and so on that were wetter.

Neither does there appear to be any evidence of wetter months becoming more common.

The flooding problems have been very much the result of a build up of water, rather than flash floods, with saturated ground and full rivers. So was December the culmination of months of wet weather. We can check this by going back to October. (November and September were both dry months, so we are taking the worst case scenario here).


Figure 2

For the three months as a whole, 2013 ranks as still only 14th wettest, again nothing remarkable, and 29% lower than the record total set in 1929.

Again, it must be borne in mind that there all sorts of other permutations of months, for instance November to January, that will give totals higher than this particular period.

South East

Now let’s focus on the South East. The Met Office keep regional data for “England South East & Central South”, which closely fits the area of heavy rainfall, on the map above.


Figures 3 and 4 show the precipitation for this region.


Figure 3


Figure 4

For December, 2013 ranks as 7th wettest on record, although it is notable that all the other wetter years were prior to 1959. For the three months total, the rank is 6th.

So, there is no indication, even in this part of the country, that rainfall last month, or since October, has been anything not experienced regularly in the past.

Winter Precipitation Trends

Is there any trend towards higher winter rainfall in England. To check this we have the benefit of the long term England & Wales Precipitation Series, held by the Met Office, which dates back to 1766.

There is clear evidence that winter precipitation was consistently lower in the first part of the record, up to about 1860. But since then, and certainly over the last century, the long term trend is pretty flat, with, if anything, a trend to less rain over the last decade or so.


Figure 5

The Met Office figures for England only, (a different dataset to the one above), show a similar picture.


Figure 6

Final Thoughts

The wet weather has continued into January so far, and hopefully will abate soon. We will get a better picture when we can look at the full winter period.

Nevertheless, there is nothing in the data to provide the slightest bit of evidence that the floods have been the result of, or aggravated by, “climate change”. Nor is there any indication that such events are becoming more common, or more extreme.

Only today, Bishop Hill refers to two separate comments by Sirs John Beddington and David King, respectively current and former UK Govt Chief Scientists, both of which imply that recent events are examples of extreme weather, which is increasing because of “climate change”. Naturally, they offer not the slightest bit of evidence. This did not prevent the BBC and Guardian respectively from falling for it hook, line and sinker.

I will leave the last word to Mary Dhonau, of the Flood Protection Association, an industry body. In a another Telegraph article, she warns us that “flooding is being made worse by developers building on flood plains to cater for an expanding population. She says that more than 2,000 properties were approved on flood plains this year despite official objections, and added: “It is absolutely barking mad to build on a flood plain when there are so many other places that could be built on.”




1) Met Office regional data

2) England & Wales Precipitation series


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Heraldo Ortega

The UK media including the BBC and Sky News always report extremes of weather as being caused by man made Global Warming. Trying to post any other opinion is impossible.

Anytime I hear climate change as an explanation of anything, I feel compelled to point out the logical absurdity of it all. If everyone agrees that there has been no climate cange for te past 17 years, then exactly how can anyone with half a brain claim that certainconditions that showed up in the past couple of years can have anything to do with cimate change? There are supposedly limits on how stupid people can be. Now I’m beginning to doubt that.

A C Osborn

As well as continuing in building on “Flood Plains”, the very name gives a clue, there is also a great deal of criticism that the old routines for keeping rivers and streams clear of debris, silt and growth have not been adhered to, thus exacerbating the situation.

M Courtney

First we’ll look at England as a whole, then concentrate on the South East, where the real problems have been.

I thought the problems were worse in the South West; Dorset, Somerset and round here in Gloucestershire.


Just heard the stupidest thing ever on The Weather Channel.
The man who coined the term “weather whiplash” said rapid changes in temperature are caused by climate change and the people in Moscow were “upset” by the “warm” (0*C) temperatures and “longed” for the bitter chill we are experiencing.


“Nobody, of course, actually quantifies any of this, but the inference implication is made nevertheless.”

Jimmy Haigh.

A friend of mine has been keeping weather records for about 60 years on the south side of Loch Tay in Perthshire. December was the wettest month he has ever measured – 15 inches of rain. It broke the record set in February 1975.
I don’t think there is any trend over the last 60 years.

Ivor Ward

Where I live near the River Vilaine in Brittany we have had extensive flooding this year, but it is managed flooding. The Rivers Ille and Aff collect the water around the high plateau at Rennes and it is let down into the Oust and Vilaine as they drain through the Arzal barrage. When there is too much the sluices are closed and the flood plains are inundated until the tide is lower and the barrage opens again. Looks like the whole Country is flooded sometimes. The key to keeping this system working so that few people get their houses flooded? Don’t build on the ruddy flood plains.


Thats the fun of making your own rules.
Yes CO2 makes the world warmer and human make it runaway warming we call that global warming.
Ow wait its not getting warmer, oke yes CO2 cane make the world cooler lets call it climate change.
So now CO2 cane make the world warmer and colder. Rain will fall more and longer. Storms will be less and more. Wild fires will be less and more. Ow and warm air will make more ice. Have tried that one whit a hairdryer but down t now what I did wrong but it was end working.
Back to climate change, by changing the name they created an way to blame every thing on CO2 no sorry human admitted CO2. And yes most people believe that. Even so call d scientist believe that crap. Yes even scientist believe this non sens although t they know it against every law you cane think of.
Now the truth is that they are wright. Oke yes they are not totally wright but lets be serious. We all now climate changes and we now it will be colder. They don’t now and they have 2 problems.
1) they don’t now how warm or cold it is. Yes we don t no it as well because all the data adjustments.
2) Because of 1 they only see outcomes witch are warm and they only believe the warmer scenarios. The nicest one yet is Turkey Turney. Piers Corbyn had on twitter an photo whit the text “you might be a true climate denier if you get your ship stuck in ice that you denied was there.
Earth at this stage is not even close to what cane be consider t warm because that would be 16 degrees. We are at this point closer to 12 degrees or lower. Earth is not even close to being out of an ice age. Are we entering one or a rend we not even out of the lest one.
By hiding behind climate change they only go further away from reality and get stuck in an sort of Hollywood creation.

Alan Robertson

It’s simple. The record cold spell across much of North America is weather. The record rainfall in parts of Great Britain is climate change.

A C Osborne has it correct. In the old days people were sensible and didn’t build their houses on flood plains. Also landowners kept the rivers in good condition and culverts were regularly cleared. Nowadays we have a dumbed-down populace, most of whom don’t know what a flood plain is and buy houses regardless of the likelihood of flooding. Our Green Governments are now fully in charge of keeping water courses clear and are more concerned about wildlife than about people. Getting permission to do any maintenance work in the countryside is a big regulatory problem and dumbed-down civil servants are in charge of the permitting agencies.

I sat on the South West Flood Defence committee of the Environment Agency for 10 years.
In England we have a number of related problems as regards flooding.
Firstly, all the safest places for building on were probably already developed by 1900.
Secondly; The EA had no legal influence at all in trying to prevent building on flood plains. By its nature its green, flat, and likely to be close to a town and a river and is therefore ‘desirable’ both in developers terms and for the financial inducements the local council will get.
Thirdly. If the flood plain is built on the water has nowhere to go in order to be ‘stored.’.
fourthly there is far more tarmac these days including that of front gardens for parking. the water immediately runs off into the nearest watercourse.
Fifth; Watercourses are on the whole badly maintained with ditches frequently allowed to become overgrow. The EA positively do not want to dredge rivers because of possible harm to wildlife, especially the water vole. result, there is much less capacity in the rivers.
last but not least there is small scale development going on all the time. If you move into a new house in ‘flood lane’ or Waters edge’ or you should not expect anyone else to bail you out.
Extreme events concerning water are no worse than they have been over the last 50 years but there are many more people who now live in unsuitable places and who want to remain completely dry. Our ancestors often accepted that a bit of water might enter their homes at various times and brick floors and electricity points at waist height were commonplace.

Bruce Cobb

In a similar fashion here in the US, the polar vortex incursion into much of the country is being mentioned as possibly due to “climate change”, as reported on NPR, and I’m sure others.

Ulric Lyons

“Only today, Bishop Hill refers to two separate comments by Sirs John Beddington and David King, respectively current and former UK Govt Chief Scientists, both of which imply that recent events are examples of extreme weather, which is increasing because of “climate change”. Naturally, they offer not the slightest bit of evidence.”
Because there is no evidence to offer. There is a very clear linkage between UK precipitation and the NAO and AO, they respond to immediate solar conditions and not to the average global temperature.

Philip Aggrey

It’s them greedy developers I tell you!!
No it is not. Actually the phenomenon is being exacerbated by local planning authorities authorising development on any old bit of land they can get their hands on (and flood plain land is, naturally’ cheaper than other land) just so that they can make the developers pay the ‘development tax’ (I forget the technical name) or contribution towards the establishment and maintenance of local infrastructure that is now enshrined in UK planning law.
Then they expect DEFRA to come along and pay for flood defences out of general taxation. Absolutely barmy system.

Alan the Brit

As an engineer, & a former employee of Thames Water when in it was in public hands, I recall (& I have said this before) many “flood alleviation” schemes being carried out at public expense. These schemes were considered vital to protect housing & businesses. After privatisation, many schemes were dropped, because public funds were no longer available, & the UK Environment Agency became the left-overs whereas the newly privatised companies dealt with water supply & treatment! For over 20 years there has been a distinct lack of investment in public flood alleviations schemes, & works to sea defences. Catchment areas are poorly managed & inadequate funds put into place. The flooding we now see is the result. As Mr Homewood has adequately demonstrated, there has been no trend or increase. I also add that the UK rainfall charts are pretty flat for the last 100 years, there is indeed inter-year variability, but no real defined trend up or down, a subtle but rather poignant point the Met Office/Environment Agency/Greenalist NGOs seem to conveniently forget! AND yes we’re still building on wretched flood plains, the clue is indeed in the title. As I point out to aspiring housebuyers, do the research, the clue is in the name – peesdownregularly lane, or floodseveryfiveyears avenue!!!! There is always extreme weather somewhere in the world, but of course extreme is the norm to scare us all! The Wet Office is doing it’s usual tactic, plausible denyability, “no one weather event can be attributed to Climate Change, but yes this is the sort of event we expect to see more of !”

George Lawson

Interesting that current rainfall is only the twentieth highest on recent records. Two other points to add for the reasons for the current floods in the UK. First, The Spring Tides around our coastal regions are the highest for twenty years, which has exacerbated the flooding in coastal areas. and secondly, I wonder when it will be understood by river and local authorities that flood protection upstream simply means greater floods downstream: the water has to spread somewhere after a deluge. This adds to the problems caused by housing developments on flood plains.


I am always dismayed when I hear the two knights, John Beddington and David King commenting on the weather. Both appear to be committed to the IPCC agenda and swim with the warmist current. The flooding this year is nothing exceptional but has been aggravated by the fact that many rivers and dykes are no longer dredged for environmental reasons. There are areas in Somerset,Gloucestershire, the Severn valley, the Ouse in east Sussex, the Mole in Surrey and the Medway Valley in mid Kent that have always flooded in the wetter years. Many ancient Anglo-Saxon villages such as Yalding in mid-Kent where several rivers meet, were built on river banks because it was easier to put up with winter flooding for a few days than to dig a well or trek miles for water.Sadly our global warmists,led by the Guardian and BBC, have little interest in past events that do not suit their agenda.

M Courtney

Philip Aggrey says at January 7, 2014 at 7:28 am…
Not that barmy. It is effectively a way of building more housing stock on reclaimed land.
Of course, it would seem neater to reclaim the land before building the houses but then the land may not be used for housing.
And we do need more housing.


climatereason says: January 7, 2014 at 7:19 am
Well said. You covered everything I wanted to say, especially the lack of dredging.

Is England’s Bad Weather A Sign Of Climate Change?
Noted climate scientist Al Sharpton (shown in the accompanying video wearing a white lab coat!) would think so:
The Tawana Brawley affair in which he was involved? Just a mere memory now that he has moved into cli sci (rhymes with: “sci fi”) …
AL Sharpton is a seriously committed man.

Glad this got on WUWT.
Worst flooding locally I’ve seen but less than a decade of observations. Tim Channon over at TBs said he has seen worse. That’s the thing about living longer – you get a sense of perspective. I am thankful, though it took me time to remember when in my ‘alarmist phase’, the wise words of my older now departed relatives about weather cycles. They had really seen it all before and often much worse.
I link to a rather good piece here by someone who has seen it before and a couple of tweets showing the waves of climate/weather ignorance

Anyone ever watch Time Team? Well usually at some point in the programme they show a computer generated image of what the land looked like at that particular time. Quite often what is now dry land used to be rivers lakes and marshland. for example Glastonbury Thor was an island.
Seems that building on flood plains has been going on for a lot longer than we imagine.


The middle part of the River Medway, specifically the section above Tonbridge, has always tended to flood because of the numerous tributaries that enter it in this area. In fact, the town itself has seen extensive flooding over the centuries, causing the part that lies higher than the rest of the town to be named Dryhill. There have been constant efforts to put flood protection measures in place, and this led to the construction of a flood barrier near Leigh in 1981. This barrier was built to protect Tonbridge from the flooding River Medway, since it was severely affected by major floods in 1968.
Since 1982 the population of Tonbridge and Malling Borough has increase 24%

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

The BBC is loving it, because they get to link it to climate change at every opportunity.
Here in Britain, we have to pay for the BBC with a television licence. It’s £140 a year – which the BBC then blows on absurdity. Well, this year, for the first time in our lives, we are not going to pay it anymore. In just three weeks our yearly contract comes to an end, and we’ve decided not to pay a licence fee and, of course, not watch live TV. I’m going to remove the aerial cable in the attic so that we cannot even watch it by accident. We are switching over to catch-up TV through the net. It will be so nice knowing that we’re not contributing to the BBC’s left-wing propaganda on everything from the EU to climate change. Bliss.

Stephen Richards

Ivor Ward says:
January 7, 2014 at 7:00 am
Bretagne has been under orange alert for nearly 14 days. I have some (friends, french of course) who live on the south coast of Morbihan. Although they say they have had lots of rain the flooding tends to occur in riverside towns. Quimperlé was under about a metre and half of water last week.
Bretagne have been spending large sums of money in recent years to avoid flooding.

Caz Jones

The British Isles are in a temperate, maritime zone. We have always had lots of rain and winter storms. An excellent article in the Telegraph.

Bad weather? I’ll give you bad weather. This is from my records (some scoured from the Met office) which seems to indicate the first lurch to the LIA, although conditions improved markedly towards the end of the century;
(Seems a specially eventful year )
1223 thunderstorms in June of unusual intensity
Very wet year inundations of rain and over flowings of water continuing in every month of the year that greatly hindered the seasons and fruits very late in maturing so in November hardly any crops to lay up in the barns.
1224 dry winter
Unseasonable weather in Ireland corn could not be reaped until January 1225-not helped by war
1225 bad harvest
1227 floods in winter
1228 inundations of rivers in Dec Jan and Feb –in Worcester- such that no one then living had ever seen the like in their time
1229 severe winter ‘unusually bitter, waters so frozen horsemen could cross upon the ice, great snow afterwards earth covered for several days.’
1231 March to October hardly any rain anywhere in England-great drought
1233 wet summer from 23 March with great inundations of rain through the whole summer destroying warrens and washed away the ponds and mills throughout almost all England. Water formed into lakes in middle of the crops where the fishes of the rivers were seen to great astonishment and mills were standing in various places they had never before been seen.
1233-1234 severe frost from Christmas 1233 to Feb 2 1234 destroying roots of trees to four foot down then rest of year very unseasonable
1234 third unseasonable year
Wet weather in autumn choked the seed and loosened it.
1236 great floods in Jan, Feb and part of March that no one had seen the like before. Bridges submerged, fords impassable, mills and ponds overwhelmed and sown land meadows and marshes covered. Thames flooded palace of Westminster so small boat could be navigated in the midst of the forecourt. And folk went to their bed chambers on horseback
Followed by dry summer with intolerable heat that all lasted four months. Deep pools and ponds were dried up and water mils useless.
1237 great rains in February, fords and roads impassable for 8 successive days
Turbulent year stormy and unsettled
1238 great floods in many parts probably December
Cloudy and rainy in beginning until spring had passed then the drought and heat were beyond measure and custom in two or more of the summer months. Great deluge of rain in the autumn that straw and grain became rotten and an unnatural autumn which is held to be a cold and dry season gave rise to various fatal diseases.
1239 very wet weather continually from Jan to March, it has continued for four months without intermission.
1240 dry Jan to March, wet from April to December but fruitful and abundant but wet and rainy autumn greatly choked the abundant crops.
—– —–
After reading thousands of weather observations spanning many centuries, inundations and epic flooding come over as the most common weather feature, closely followed by storms, heatwaves and drought.

William Astley

In reply to:
“Is England’s Bad Weather A Sign Of Climate Change?”
Yes, there are signs that the climate has changed. Com’on warmists you guys are trying to attribute any change in climate to CO2. Has anything else changed? Are there alternative mechanisms to explain the observed climate change? Have we ever observed similar climate? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. There was talk about drought in the UK in 2012. Why the sudden reversal? Why the sudden coldest winter temperatures in the US in 20 years? Why the sudden occurrence of this pattern of climate?
The climate has changed due to the weakest solar magnetic cycle in 100 years. The solar heliosphere pressure is reduced by 40%. Due to the reduced pressure in the solar heliosphere the magnetic field intensity of solar wind burst has dropped by a factor of two. Solar wind burst remove (or at least did remove before the reduction in the solar heliosphere pressure) cloud forming ions in higher latitudes of the planet and in the equatorial regions by creating a space charge differential in the ionosphere. The process where solar wind bursts remove ions from the atmosphere is called electroscavenging.
If you read through Tinsley and Yu’s review paper there is an explanation as to how an increase in ions in the atmosphere results in more extreme winter storms. There is also on explanation as to why there was the highest amount of cloud cover in the Arctic in the summer of 2012, which resulted in the greatest recovery in sea ice in recorded history. It’s the sun.
“In a winter cyclone the primary driver of the dynamics is the baroclinic instability in the winter circulation, with the storm extracting vorticity from the latitudinal shear in the circulation, and converting it to the vorticity of the cyclone. The effective diabatic heating associated with precipitation and reduced cooling of entrained air amounts to an increase in potential vorticity and uplift in the air mass, and is likely to concentrate the vorticity near the cyclone center. In addition, by enhancing the feedback processes inherent in the baroclinic instability, it can increase the overall vorticity of the cyclone. It has been demonstrated analytically by van Delden [1989] and from numerical storm simulations by Zimmerman et al. [1989] and Mallet et al. (1999) that a positive feedback exists between the storm dynamical configuration and the diabatic processes. Thus precipitation changes explain the many reported examples of correlations of the vorticity area index (VAI) with GCR flux change and Jz reviewed by Tinsley [2000].”
Why did the US have extremely cold winters and super winter storms in the 1970’s? Duh the sun. Why is the US suddenly experiencing the coldest winter temperatures in 20 year? Why are there no longer El Niño events? Why is there record sea ice in the Antarctic? Why is there record recovery of sea ice in the Arctic?
“Hubert Lamb said that in many years, “snowfall was much heavier than recorded before or since, and the snow lay on the ground for many months longer than it does today.”[24] Many springs and summers were cold and wet, but with great variability between years and groups of years. Crop practices throughout Europe had to be altered to adapt to the shortened, less reliable growing season, and there were many years of dearth and famine (such as the Great Famine of 1315–1317, although this may have been before the LIA proper).[25] According to Elizabeth Ewan and Janay Nugent, “Famines in France 1693–94, Norway 1695–96 and Sweden 1696–97 claimed roughly 10% of the population of each country. In Estonia and Finland in 1696–97, losses have been estimated at a fifth and a third of the national populations, respectively.”[26] Viticulture disappeared from some northern regions. Violent storms caused serious flooding and loss of life. Some of these resulted in permanent loss of large areas of land from the Danish, German and Dutch coasts.[24]”


DavidCobb says:
January 7, 2014 at 6:51 am
rapid changes in temperature are caused by climate change
At first, one is tempted to say that’s the tail waging the dog. But on second thought, as “climate” does not exist onto itself in the real world, (like “cold” and “dark”), it is another logical absurdity to say something nonexistent can increase or decrease the amount of energy (naturally transitory as it is) within a given space of the atmosphere. But then, as Col. Mosby indirectly wonders previously, are there no limits on how stupid people can be? Apparently, not on the Weather Channel. Maybe they should change the name to the “Climate (Change) Channel”?


Don’t pick on the BBC only. They are objectivity personified compared with Channel 4 News last night. They included references to and clips from the film “2012” plus an interview with a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, IN THE NEWS!
Little children give themselves the heebies with their lurid imaginings, and one smiles at it. When grown adults with expensive educations do it in a broadcast medium it is time to start asking for people to be fired.

Rob aka Flatlander

In an age of instant info the population (particularly those under the age of 25) are ready to accept any and all info thrown at them. When this whole thing of how the climate was changing spurred by a recent storm perhaps, started popping up in the media I began realizing that formerly these exact events had happened in my lifetime and that of my father. Winters and summers on the Canadian prairies have changed year to year and decade to decade BUT have repeated themselves many times. Snows of the 30’s the 50’s the 70’s and now the 10’s are similar in total snow. As well as drier winters of the 40’s 60’s 80’s and 2000’s. There have been dry summers and wet summers, cool summers and hot summers, but NOTHING has fallen outside the normal range of the recorded weather that has been recorded since Europeans started to settle North America. Last year Calgary and Southern Alberta experienced severe flooding that was touted almost instantly as “climate change” and 1 in a thousand year flood, but if one looks back only 113 years there had been 7 floods equal to or greater than the one experienced. The only thing is that there was a flood decline throughout the 60’s to 2005 and that the population of Calgary had recorded huge population growth since the 80’s thus effecting more people. Time gives perspective, but you have know or look back at the history to understand.

David Schofield

I remember a few years ago as a Sky reporter was looking down a slope towards a newish housing development under a few feet of water and saying how it was unprecedented. What she hadn’t seen on the building behind her, above her head, was a mark of the “Great flood of 1875” or thereabouts. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.
Even yesterday when a BBC reporter was dramatising flooding around the village of Mulcheney as though it was unheard of failed to see the irony when he explained the Saxon derivation of the village name was ‘big island’.

Rob aka Flatlander

Climate Change is the reason we have “the Weather” segment during the news. If the climate wasn’t variable there would be no news, and no need to predict the upcoming week.


YOUR OPENING PICTURE REVEALS ALL: where did the ancient, centuries – old church get built? On the highest point above a flood plain. There has been flooding in these areas for centuries and our ancestors knew it. Medieval Britain had more common sense than the DECC troughers and hangers-on!

Big Jim Cooley, I think you need a licence to watch catch-up TV on the web. Whether they can tell if you’re doing so is another matter :).
Take the Somerset Levels as an example. There has been a lot of flooding there this month. One village caught up in it, Muchelney, has a name that refers to it being an island — there could be a clue here. The wikipedia page for it (, refers to its original island status being “common to many of the villages in this area of the Somerset Levels, which stood as islands just above the marshes, which have since been drained” — another clue I think! The Levels used to flood in the Winter and only be used in Summer — of course that’s not the case now. Why are they flooding in Winter now? A petition on the UK Government website ( refers to “the Environment Agency’s refusal to dredge the river system for the past 25 years” — a third clue!!
It’s so easy to blame AGW. But here in the UK at least we’ve seen the Environment Agency deliberately withdraw funding for flood defences in many parts of the country, and implement flood alleviation schemes for some privileged areas that then lead to flooding elsewhere. Building on flood plains is endemic and therefore more people are affected. Yet we’re told we need more houses because of immigration and the increase in single-occupancy households (divorced/unwed parents). AGW is a convenient diversion.

Caz Jones

Steve says:
January 7, 2014 at 7:40 am
Anyone ever watch Time Team? Well usually at some point in the programme they show a computer generated image of what the land looked like at that particular time. Quite often what is now dry land used to be rivers lakes and marshland. for example Glastonbury Thor was an island.
Seems that building on flood plains has been going on for a lot longer than we imagine.
The archaeology is still there on the Somerset Levels, when Glastonbury Lake Village existed. I did some research when I lived in Somerset.


Before Christmas I attended an area joint Mech E/IET lecture on Climate Change, given by Professor John Shepherd CBE FRS, a Professorial Research Fellow at the National Oceanographic Centre, University of Southampton, and a leading member of the Royal Society Climate Change Committee. I was quite staggered at what he had to say, and if he is part of the group of people advising Ed Davey I can quite understand why Davy is so convinced that disaster will befall us all if we fail to limit CO2 emissions. In his introduction he told us that he had been one of the six Royal Society “climate scientists” that had met Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation in the House of Lords at the end of November. According to Lawson, although the RS had insisted that would not participate unless journalists were kept away, Shepherd went out of his way to tell us that the meeting was not secret; its purpose apparently was to convince the Global Warming Foundation principals of the seriousness of increasing CO2 emissions. He admitted there had not been a meeting of minds!
Almost at once Shepherd told the audience to take no notice of “sceptics” as they didn’t know what they were talking about, which as far as I was concerned set the tone for his lecture! He began with a graph showing the relationship between CO2 and temperature that was identical to the one in the Al Gore film that purported to show how very high levels of CO2 had caused very high global temperatures on four occasions in history, showing the two to be co-incident, when of course an expanded timescale shows CO2 levels lagging the temperature rise. He then showed the infamous Jones/Mann/Biffa hockey stick that had been the subject of the “hide the decline” emails and which they concocted by being very selective in which tree samples they, and particularly Biffa, had used. The current pause he dismissed as just a little blip; such blips had happened in the past and inexorable warming would start again very soon he said. And so it went on, and I cannot see him ever rowing back from the position he has taken. Further, if his five colleagues are as bad, then heaven help us. I must say I expected a little more integrity from an FRS. Another illusion shattered!

M Courtney

Gerry says at January 7, 2014 at 8:15 am… Tewkesbury Abbey is surrounded by floods every year. It is a Norman stone church built on the site of a former Saxon church (like nearby Deerhurst Church just down the Severn). Both places are regularly surrounded by water but avoid flooding themselves.
The reaon is that the earliest churches were wooden and when they flooded they just rebuilt in a better place. After a few centuries they got the right location.
Also, this building in Tewkesbury that is entirely surrounded by water (it keeps appearing in the press) – it’s a former watermill. It is always surrounded by water, whatever the state of the River Avon.

Steve from Rockwood

Nice post. Damage due to flooding is only partly related to the amount of rainfall. An even greater problem is the change in land use. By reclaiming land the same amount of rain is supposed to flow away within a much smaller footprint. No surprise there is more damage. But who insures the people who build on known flood plains anyway?


I think this quote in Paul’s article is indicative of the thinking here:
“But critics say the scheme allows for no increase in the likely numbers of flood victims as weather patterns become increasingly severe and new homes are built in areas previously considered off limits because of flood risk.”
In other words, despite not being able to get flood insurance for homes already built on flood plains, these people want a government scheme to grow to include people who are going to build on inappropriate land in the future! Basically, we want someone else to pay the bills for our development of land deemed too risky to build on. And these people are not ashamed to put their names to this blatant money-grab? They should be.

chris moffatt

I seem to recall from geology classes that much of southern and eastern England has heavy clay soils. If such soils are continually moist rain will simply runoff adding to flood risk. OTOH if such soils alternately get wet then dry then wet again there is likelihood of shrink-swelling causing potentially serious property damage. As I recall from my days in London and the Midlands there was little likelihood of the clay actually drying out since most days had some amount of rain especially in Winter. Build in a floodplain or build on unstable soils it’s all global warming to blame.
Also I seem to remember serious flooding back in the 1950s in North Devon (Lynton/Lynmouth), and have seen flash-flooding (result of a couple of days heavyish rain) at first hand in South Devon some twelve or so years ago. I think what this article is demonstrating is that there has been NO change in southern England, at least as regards rain & floods, for a long time.


How long ago was it that SE England was in the grip of a serous water shortage?
Memory loss must be a requirement these days if you want to be a MSM news reporter.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

Peter Ward:
No, the television licence applies only to LIVE television. If the aerial is removed then it’s impossible to watch it live! The net can provide live TV, but you have to actually seek it out. We are going to route the net through the TV using an HDMI cable connected to a tablet, so if we want to watch something from the previous few days then we will bring it up on the net and play it through the tablet to the TV.

UK Sceptic

The only thing that is extreme is the BBC’s zeal in trying to link the storms with CAGW. The current storms are giving them the excuse pull a shameless 24/7 coverage on their greenie agenda. I’m sick of it. Heartily sick of it.

Kip Hansen

There is though, no doubt, that you are having a wet winter — and — bottom line, an particularly wet winter — which I think is represented by the figures 14th wettest, 7th wettest, etc. All the graphs end with a definitive uptick. So, suck it up, you’ve got a wet winter.
Climate change? No, of course, not. Nothing strange compared the to century’s record, but certainly not a dry winter, not a medium winter, definitely a wet winter.
Your bottom line is absolutely correct: “there is nothing in the data to provide the slightest bit of evidence that the floods have been the result of, or aggravated by, “climate change”. Nor is there any indication that such events are becoming more common, or more extreme.”
One need not draw trend lines, nor use computer assisted 10-year running averages to see this.

Jim Cripwell

Horse. I don’t know if you have read the presentation made by Lord Reese.
He states, categorically, ” Doubling of CO2 in itself just causes 1.2 degrees warming.” When you have someone of the calibre of Lord Reese just plain lying, it is no wonder that other Fellows of the RS follow in his footsteps. As Sir Alan Rudge remarked, WWTE, it takes a brave man to put his head above the parapet.

Caz Jones

UK Sceptic says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:42 am
The only thing that is extreme is the BBC’s zeal in trying to link the storms with CAGW. The current storms are giving them the excuse pull a shameless 24/7 coverage on their greenie agenda. I’m sick of it. Heartily sick of it.
I heartily agree, the biased Beeb is unwatchable. Mind you, the other channels are playing the same tune.

michael hart

Before ‘global-warming’, as far as the MSM are concerned “lots of rain” usually meant “lots of rain in and around London.” Now any noteworthy weather, anywhere, is global-warming. A total absence of the less frequent events would probably be described as “unprecedented”, and thus proof of catastrophic global warming, even if they changed the name again.
I think this aspect will not go away quickly. The English are most likely to start a conversation with a complete stranger by making a comment about the weather. But these days I sometimes add in a sarcastic comment about it being due to global warming. If it elicits any response at all, it is usually a smile or a grunt of approval. The alarmists are doomed, and they know it. (They certainly should do by now: they spend enough time telling the rest of us that we’re doomed.)

Ivor Ward

Stephen Richards says:
January 7, 2014 at 7:53 am
Quimperle is one of the unfortunate towns where the flood plain is on the seaward side of the town. It is at the confluence of two rivers, the Laita being the main one and because it is in a slight gorge the river has been channeled into gulleys through the town. With the rain we have had, the only solution would be to build a flood water gully bypassing the town, rather like the big storm gulleys in LA. I’m not sure if there is the will to do that so probably another couple of feet of stone on the river walls will be added. Beautiful town….well worth a visit. Morlaix has a similar problem, being in a gorge.